“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;. She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth,
Hosea 2:14-15a NKJV
It's one of my favorite verses, and yet I know it's not really about my life....or is it? This verse was given to me at the most difficult time in my life. I had spent the entire day pleading with God for an answer....begging Him for direction...and He pointed me to Job and Hosea. I remember crying and asking Him if this was seriously the best He could do for me as I struggled to remember to breathe. I remember reading these two verses and thinking that surely God did not understand what it was that I needed to hear at that moment...but I was wrong. It was exactly what I needed to hear, for it was my personal promise from God.
The verse is really a reference to the time Israel spent wandering in the wilderness. The Valley of Achor is a reference to a place of tragedy for Israel with it being now promised as a door of hope. I didn't see it at first, but God would show me that it was about me...a promise of things to come.
Most people do not spend their days in areas that are wilderness. Most people don't really enjoy darkness. Most people are content to spend their days in sunny areas surrounded by people. For some the wilderness and darkness mean fear because of what you cannot see...the fear of the unknown. But there are things that you only can see in darkness. There are things that you miss in the light of the sun.
There is beauty in darkness that you can never see in the light. For example, stars are always above us, hovering in the canopy of the sky, but they are hidden by the brightness of the sun. Even at twilight most remain hidden. It is only in the darkness that the beauty of a star-filled sky can be enjoyed. The beauty of a star can only be seen against a background of darkness. Without the darkness one would miss the beauty of the stars.
God wanted to reveal Himself to me in the darkness. He wanted me to linger in the wilderness, not to grow accustomed to the darkness, but to better understand the beauty of lights stretched against its canopy. He wanted to meet with me there. He wanted to allure me...to draw me to Himself. He wanted to show me that He is all I need. He wanted to comfort me in my darkness, and show me that He is my light. He wanted me to trust that He could take a valley of pain and make it have purpose...to transform my Valley of Achor into a door of hope.
I've often thought what I would do if God offered to let me go back and never enter the Valley of Achor. What if He let me erase it from my memory...to never have allowed my feet to cross its threshold. My head shouts an enormous "yes", but my heart....my soul...well, they're not so sure. I remember nights that I just laid in the grass in the dark and cried. I remember nights when I bowed in the yard and sometimes lay prostrate on the retaining wall just pleading with God for peace. I remember nights of struggling to take my thoughts captive and fight to cling to Him although the winds of the storm threatened to tear me loose from His grasp. Why would anyone even consider going through that again?
Because there is hope that flows from Achor. There is a comfort and peace hidden in the darkness of the wilderness. There is a beauty in a star-strewn sky that you only see in the darkness of night. Those nights in the fetal position in the grass...those nights prostrate on the retaining wall....those hours of pleading with Him to put your heart back together because you couldn't find all the pieces. Each and every one of those nights in the wilderness....He was there. Each and every cry that went from the darkness...He heard. He stole my heart in the wilderness. He allured me to draw nearer to Him in a way I had never experienced. He spoke comfort to a broken heart. I learned that there is great fruit that comes from the wilderness...fruit that doesn't grow in mountain top vineyards. And the words He speaks in the wilderness...they are more beautiful than any ever spoken, for the comfort and peace that they bring is indescribable And suddenly you find yourself singing there in the valley....in the deepest darkest crevices of the wilderness you learn to sing. The song born in the wilderness cannot be sung by those who live on the tops of mountains, for they do not understand the words. The song born in the wilderness touches your heart in places it would never have been touched had it not been broken. There is beauty in brokenness...Truth in trial....Depth in darkness that you only find in the wilderness and I wouldn't trade my time there for anything....even if it cost everything.